Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ranking the ACC bowls
By ESPN.com staff
My colleague Mark Schlabach ranked each of the 35 bowl matchups, and it wouldn't be a typical day at the office if I didn't disagree with him on at least one. For the most part, we're on the same page, but I think NC State's matchup with Louisville will be slightly more compelling than Wake Forest and Mississippi State. You've got Schlabach's version. Here's mine:
1. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech will have the best chance to make a statement in the ACC against No. 13 Michigan. It's a chance for the Hokies to prove that they can win on a big stage outside of the ACC.
2. Discover Orange Bowl: The Tigers should beat West Virginia, but it's not a guarantee. The Mountaineers' offense, which is No. 19 in the country in scoring, will give Clemson some problems.
3. Champs Sports Bowl: The ACC is 0-3 against Notre Dame so far this season, but Florida State will be the league's best chance at changing that. They're going to need more offensively, though, than they've shown in recent weeks.
4. Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia will have a chance to take advantage of an Auburn team that looks nothing like its 2010 form. Auburn hasn't put together back-to-back wins since the last weekend in September.
5. Hyundai Sun Bowl: This game will pit the nation's No. 3 rushing offense against the No. 7 rushing defense, and Georgia Tech will try to snap a six-game losing streak in bowl games.
6. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: North Carolina will get Missouri's last performance as a member of the Big 12 before moving to the SEC next year, and the Tar Heels will be looking to send interim coach Everett Withers out with a win.
7. Belk Bowl: This is a matchup between two teams that finished on hot streaks. NC State had two of the ACC's most memorable wins of the season with an upset of Clemson and the school's biggest comeback in school history against Maryland.
8. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wake Forest and Mississippi State are two 6-6 teams who struggled down the stretch. The Bulldogs lost two of their last three, and the Deacs lost four of their last five.